COVID-19 vaccines herd immunity – ignore anti-vaxxer disinformation

person holding syringe

The only way to herd immunity to this pandemic is with COVID-19 vaccines, but still, people are refusing the vaccine, not only in the USA but also throughout the world. But the anti-vaccine world is doing everything it can to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt about these vaccines.

Herd immunity is a form of indirect protection from infectious diseases that can occur when a sufficient percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, by vaccines or infection, which reduces the risk of infection by members of the community who lack that immunity. Although we don’t have a solid estimate for herd immunity levels for COVID-19, it is estimated to be between 60 and 75%.

Without herd immunity, there are a number of consequences. People who cannot get vaccinated or are immunocompromised will always be at risk of contracting the disease. The virus will continue to be transmitted, which will lead to more dangerous mutations. And there are local outbreaks of COVID-19 across the world that could bring the disease back to the USA and many other countries where we don’t reach herd immunity.

A large group of COVID-19 deniers and anti-vaxxers want to create herd immunity “naturally” instead of using vaccines – that is essentially genocide since so many people will die or suffer long-term consequences.

We need to get the COVID-19 vaccines into as many people as we can so that we can reach herd immunity. Right now, about 25% of Americans may refuse to get the vaccine, and that means we probably cannot reach herd immunity.

mbedThis article is just a list of my articles that can be useful in your arguments with the anti-vaxxers and individuals who are “on-the-fence.”

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COVID-19 vaccine blood clots – the FDA and EMA are doing the right thing

COVID-19 vaccine blood clots

If you have been watching the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, you know that blood clots have become a concern with the vaccines from JNJ (Johnson & Johnson-Janssen) and AstraZeneca. Shockingly, some pro-vaccine types are trying to dismiss these concerns by posting ridiculous memes that try to compare blood clots from these vaccines to ones from birth control pills or smoking.

Setting aside the fact that memes are for the intellectually and scientifically weak, such as anti-vaxxers, these memes are trying to compare apples to bowling balls. Furthermore, ignoring these potential links play right into the hands of the anti-vaccine crowd.

mbedIn my not-so-humble opinion, the US FDA, European Medicines Agency (EMA), and other health agencies across the world have done the right thing by “pausing,” or limiting the use of the vaccines from JNJ and AstraZeneca. Science has been doing the right thing with regards to the COVID-19 vaccine blood clots issue.

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JNJ COVID-19 vaccine and blood clots – still safe and effective

jaj COVID-19 vaccine clots

Like the earlier story about the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and blood clots, the JNJ (Johnson and Johnson) vaccine is being examined for a potential link to an extremely rare blood clotting disorder. The US Food and Drug Administration and the CDC have placed a “pause” on the use of the vaccine. They have not banned it. They have not recalled it.

Right at the top, I want to state that the JNJ COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective by any rational measurement. My daughters and their significant others all received the vaccine over the weekend after I recommended it, despite the blood clots issue.

I want to review what is happening here. I hope that it helps, in some small way, to allay the fears from this issue.

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Is the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine linked to blood clots? EMA provides guidance

astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine blood clots

I have previously written about whether thrombosis (formation of blood clots) is linked to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine – my conclusions were that they probably weren’t. However, governments and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are starting to get me very concerned about an issue with this vaccine.

Recently, the government of Quebec recently decided that the AstraZeneca vaccine will only be used on individuals 55 years and older. Of course, this caused some parts of the anti-vaccine world to froth at the mouth claiming the vaccine isn’t safe.

Then, on 6 April 2021, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is reporting a plausible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and thrombotic events. I will discuss this in detail below.

I think that many of the adverse events that are claimed to be associated with any of the COVID-19 vaccines involve the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, which states that because one event precedes another event, they must be linked. It is entirely possible that thrombosis occurs after vaccinations because of random chance rather than actual correlation (let alone causation). However, thrombosis that is temporally associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine may be troubling.

Because the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is one of the four main vaccines (along with those from Pfizer, Moderna, and JNJ) to be given in the USA, Canada, the EU, Australia, and New Zealand, I want to make sure that the potential of a causal link to blood clots are given a thorough analysis.

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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and thrombosis – should we worry?

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine thrombosis

I have previously written about whether thrombosis (formation of blood clots) is linked to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine – my conclusion was that they probably weren’t. But still, there are nagging anecdotes and government decisions that may concern those of you who are looking to get the vaccine.

Recently, the government of Quebec recently decided that the AstraZeneca vaccine will only be used on individuals 55 years and older. Of course, this caused some parts of the anti-vaccine world to froth at the mouth claiming the vaccine isn’t safe.

I think that many of the adverse events that are claimed to be associated with any of the COVID-19 vaccines involve the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, which states that because one event precedes another event, they must be linked. It is entirely possible that thrombosis occurs after vaccinations because of random chance rather than actual correlation (let alone causation).

Because the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is one of the four main vaccines (along with those from Pfizer, Moderna, and JNJ) to be given in the USA, Canada, the EU, Australia, and New Zealand, I want to make sure that the potential of a causal link to thrombosis events are given a thorough analysis. I especially want to focus on why the Government of Quebec decided to make this change – and it’s a lot more complicated than the narratives pushed by the anti-vaccine crowd.

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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine safety and efficacy – no reason to refuse it

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine safety

I have been noting with alarm that the safety and effectiveness of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine – it’s concerning people, and sometimes governments, are refusing the vaccine. This is wrong.

My girlfriend, an ER physician who is literally exhausted from saving lives during this pandemic, wrote this recently:

So many lives have been lost to COVID-19. Please vaccinate.

I may write picky things about these vaccines, just to follow the science, but in the end, I don’t care which COVID-19 vaccine I received and you shouldn’t either. The AstraZeneca vaccine is demonstrably safe and demonstrably effective.

I have made an effort to push the facts and debunk the myths about all of the COVID-19 vaccines. I think the AstraZeneca one needs

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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness against South Africa variant

astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness

One of the variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus may impact the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (ChAdOx1). In this case, the so-called South African variant, B.1.351, has shown to significantly reduce the efficacy of the vaccine. This has become a worrisome issue as the world tries to move away from this pandemic.

Of course, there are only a handful of new COVID-19 strains that are actually dangerous, but the issues are whether the new vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, JNJ, and AstraZeneca confer immunity to any new variants and what regulatory requires may be necessary for the vaccine manufacturers to respond to them.

It’s important for us to keep abreast of these variants and speculate on how we might move forward to protect people. That’s why we need to understand how this new SARS-CoV-2 variant impacted the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.

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Vaccine profits from Big Pharma – let’s take a closer look at this trope

vaccine profits

The old myth of the huge Big Pharma vaccine profits – it’s the subject of so many memes, tropes, and outright lies from the anti-vaccine activists. These vaccine deniers, who not only lack knowledge of science but also of basic corporate finance, believe that every Big Pharma CEO relies on vaccines for their next bonus check, which they use to buy their new Ferrari to show off to imaginary vaccine-injured children.

I am not naive – public corporations have an obligation to their shareholders and employees to maximize profits. That’s capitalism, I suppose.

But where this trope goes off the rails is when you realize that vaccine profits would be eclipsed by medical industry profits if Big Pharma simply stopped producing vaccines – mass epidemics would mean that hospitals would be filled with patients, just look at the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s ironic that the anti-vaxxers claim that Big Pharma’s greed gives us vaccines, but if they were truly greedy they’d be out of the vaccine business.

This article is not going to be as much science as I usually do – it’s going to focus on finance and accounting. Yes, I’m a finance and accounting geek as much as I am a science aficionado. 

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COVID-19 vaccines rushed? Another anti-vaccine myth without merit

COVID-19 vaccines rushed

One of the enduring myths about vaccines is that they’re rushed to market, which has continued with COVID-19 vaccines. This myth doesn’t arise because the anti-vaxxers have some “gotcha” information about these vaccines, it’s because they are intent on pushing fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

If you read my articles since March about the development of this vaccine, I was very troubled about the speed of development. Most vaccines take 5-10 years to develop, mostly because we want a better handle on the expected effectiveness and to uncover any potential (and extremely rare) serious adverse events.

But were the COVID-19 vaccine rushed? Not really. Basically, two massive resources – money and brainpower – were thrown at developing a vaccine so that we could stop the inexorable march of the pandemic. The best scientists in the world collaborated with the best pharmaceutical companies with the backing of the richest countries to develop and manufacture safe and effective vaccines.

It wasn’t a magical process where scientists pulled ideas out of thin air to make these vaccines using dangerous technologies. They didn’t.

We know how to train the adaptive immune system to prevent pathogenic diseases with vaccines using all kinds of technologies. Once we were able to isolate the SARS-CoV-2 virus and determine what parts of its structure were the most immunogenic, we knew what to do, it wasn’t a huge mystery at that time.

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COVID-19 vaccines pipeline – potential next emergency use authorizations

COVID-19 vaccines pipeline

After the emergency use authorizations (EUA) were given for the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, what is next in the pipeline? There are three vaccines that could be reviewed by the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) during the next few weeks that would provide recommendations to the FDA (and other national drug regulatory bodies) for EUAs.

The three vaccines I’m going to discuss are ones that have a reasonable chance of getting approved for use in the USA or Europe. This excludes COVID-19 vaccines from Russia, China, and other countries that rarely, if ever, get FDA approval for vaccines (see Note 1).

So, let’s take a look at what are probably the next three COVID-19 vaccines in the pipeline.

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